Trumpeter swan

Latin Name
Cygnus cygnus buccinator




The largest North American waterfowl, the trumpeter swan is easily identified by its white plumage and black bill. The bird derives its name from its signature call, a loud, trumpeting honk. Its wingspan can reach up to eight feet, and adult males can weigh up to 30 pounds.



The trumpeter swan is predominantly found in the western United States and western Canada, although reintroduction programs have extended its range as far east as Illinois.


The trumpeter swan nearly became extinct in the early 20th century due to the pressures of overhunting and habitat loss. Today, reintroduction programs are in place to restore the species to much of its former range. Since 2001, Lincoln Park Zoo has contributed 38 trumpeter swan cygnets from the breeding pair in the Hope B. McCormick Swan Pond for release in the wild. In 2006, a trumpeter swan from Lincoln Park Zoo was one of the first to nest in Illinois in more than 100 years.

Lincoln Park Zoo cooperatively manages trumpeter swan populations with other institutions in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.


The species inhabits lakes, ponds and rivers.


The trumpeter swan feeds primarily on seeds, grains and wetland plants. The species will also add snails, insects and small fish to its diet.

Life History

Trumpeter swans form breeding pairs upon reaching three-four years of age, and these pairs often remain together for life. The female builds a large grass nest near a body of water, where she lays four-six eggs. Upon hatching, trumpeter swan offspring, called cygnets, stay with their parents for three-four months before venturing off on their own.

Lincoln Park Zoo Exhibit